Tompkins Cortland Students Earn Prestigious Internships

Kristen Avery and Holland Taylor

Tompkins Cortland Community College students Kristen Avery and Holland Taylor have been selected to participate in prestigious summer research internships with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at the Columbia University Climate School.

Avery completed her research internship during the summer of 2021. Taylor has been chosen to take part this summer. Each student was encouraged to apply for the highly competitive internship by Tompkins Cortland Biology Professor and Environmental Science Program Chair Kelly Wessell.

Avery (pictured on the left, holding a fossil) was one of 30 chosen in 2021. She spent the summer of 2021 working with photosynthetic cyanobacteria, that when fossilized are known as stromatolites. The research focused on two specific stromatolites dating back more than two-million years; one sample from Africa and a sample from the Newark Basin in New Jersey.

“The internship held me to a high standard in terms of taking initiative, research, reading and absorbing scientific papers and studies, working independently, as well as coming together with other interns in areas of the Geosciences and similar Paleo studies,” said Avery. “The professors pushed me to dig deep and ask questions while encouraging me to trust myself throughout the research process and statistical analysis of the data. This internship solidified my love for science and gave me many useful tools for research in the future.”

Taylor (pictured on the right) is one of 33 that will begin their internship this June at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory on Columbia University’s Earth and Environmental Science campus in Palisades, New York. She will be researching the impact of environmental change on oyster reefs, a project that aligns with her life goal of working with marine life.

“Returning to school has been such a reassuring and eye-opening experience. Professors and faculty at TC3 have been nothing but supportive and encouraging of my passions and goals to help marine life, specifically, my professor and advisor, Dr. Kelly Wessell,” said Holland. “This prestigious internship is very exciting as I will finally be working firsthand towards making a difference and helping these marine ecosystems and aquatic life! I will be working with and in the presence of some of the top scientific minds on marine biology and anthropogenic induced climate change.”